Utah mom of 9 a formidable foe in arm wrestling

By Mark Johnston

Daily Herald

Published: Saturday, June 30 2012 9:09 p.m. MDT

Working out with trainers, she quickly impressed them with her strength, and soon they were convincing Edwards to enter more competitions. At the 2010 Utah Summer Games, her coaches talked her into competing in Olympic lifting, power lifting and arm wrestling. Edwards took home gold medals in all three.

While weight lifting events were her main focus, she continued to arm wrestle competitively with great success, never losing.

Then in 2010, in her finals match at the Utah Summer Games, Edwards faced off against a competitor named Lisa Wolfey.

"She walked up to the table and she was beautiful. Long hair, dress and high heels," Edwards recalled.

But upon taking Wolfey's hand, Edwards knew she was in trouble. After a long battle between the two, Wolfey handed Edwards just her second loss since she was 14 years old, a humbling experience.

It wasn't a complete loss for Edwards. Shortly after the match the umpires approached her to congratulate her on putting up such a good fight. As it turned out, Wolfey was a former USAF Unified National Arm Wrestling champion and Edwards had just given her a run for her money.

Edwards also learned a valuable lesson from the matchup.

"I realized that high heels were part of her strategy," she said, and picked up a pair of her own before returning to competition this year, now a little taller for a greater advantage.

Height advantage is a small part of the overall strategy and technique that, along with great strength, make Edwards an intimidating opponent.

While she dressed up for this year's Utah Summer Games, new heels and skirt, it didn't take long for her opponent to realize Edwards's strength.

Along with confident eye contact, the first grip is important, made very tight as an intimidation strategy. It can be an exhausting process as the competitors adjust their hand position over and over, making sure they have it just right before the referee starts the match.

When the starting signal is given, contestants, already gripping tight to intimidate, still want to have enough energy for an explosive first move. From there technique and pure strength take over. Matches can be over in milliseconds or last for what may seem like an eternity for those involved.

"The look, the grab, the pull, the push, the gold," as Edwards orders it, and exactly what she did this year against a strong opponent at the Utah Summer Games. But a rematch against Wolfey has yet to happen.

With all her success in competition, Edwards doesn't let it get to her head or become an obsession. While she maintains a strict, six-day-a-week training schedule, it's well balanced with the rest of her extremely busy schedule.

Working as an intensive care charge nurse, writing books and home schooling a number of her younger children take priority. But plenty of help around the house from her family allow Edwards to continue training and maintaining her gifted strength.

Further down the line Edwards is open to competing more and maybe even challenging some weight lifting world records in her age group.

No matter what the future holds, though, Edwards is happy with all she's accomplished by returning to an active and healthful lifestyle.

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